Roberts forged a stellar career as an aggressive forward with Souths, Manly and North Queensland and represented both New South Wales and Australia. In 2005, he was named one of the 25 greatest ever New South Wales players.
Having come out, Ian was called on by most gay charities and many youth charities to do fund raising work, appear in poster campaigns, and sit on Mardi Gras floats, among others. Acutely aware of his media position, Roberts kept up a busy charity schedule as well as his Rugby League career, shifting from the Manly Sea Eagles in Sydney to the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville. During this period his biography, Finding Out, was released.
In a 2000 father-son newspaper interview, Ian talked about his relationship with his dad:
“Most of the time my father and I talk about sport. We never stop fighting. We've always disagreed about everything, especially politics. Dad is a bit of a racist We'd also argue about the whole gay thing. He came from the old school, where everything was black and white and no grey. Now he's mellowed; he really believes that there should be allowances for gay couples, that they should have equal rights and they should be able to marry in some form...
...I was surprised how cool he was about it when I told him I was gay; it was my mum who freaked out. I was about 25 at the time. Dad said, 'Your mum's heard something at work today; we don't believe it, but we just want to hear you say it. Tell us you're not gay.' I said, 'No, Dad, I am gay.' He went white as a sheet. Mum started screaming. Dad said, 'Shut up, Jean, and talk to your son!' I was upset, so I went out to the car, and Dad followed me. He gave me a hug and said, 'This is still your home, boy.'
We didn't bring the subject up for a while, because Mum was still having a really difficult time accepting it. One day, Dad tried to have this safe-sex talk with me. I told him that I knew what I was doing, but I appreciated his concern. He was very inquisitive; he wanted to know all about it.”
From Ian’s father:
“One of the proudest moments of my life was when he finally did come out. That took a hell of a lot of guts. I think he was just fed up with living a lie, and he got to the stage where he didn't care what people thought about him. I'd go along to watch him at the football, and some of the crap I used to hear from the crowd made me very upset.
We argue about everything. That's what most of his friends could never understand. When they first meet us, they think we're forever fighting, but it's just the way we are. We talk about everything. Nothing is taboo. I just wish he'd told us earlier. It would have been easier for me, and for him.”
This video features highlights of his rugby days, acting career and even some clips from "Dancing with the Stars." Enjoy.